The usual assumption is that a newer product is automatically better than its predecessor, with advances in materials, technology, and design usually making for a major improvement. However, the newer model isn't always better, as Ford Mustang fans can attest to with the introduction of the 1974 Mustang II. Subsequent models being worse than their predecessors is generally the exception rather than the rule.

Although we haven't had a chance to get behind the wheel of the 2015 GMC Canyon, we do have some preliminary specifications on the new truck, and we decided we'd put it head to head with the last-generation Canyon. We broke it down in the categories of Engine/Transmission, Capability, Interior, and Exterior. You may not agree with all of our conclusions, but it's pretty apparent the new Canyon comes out decisively ahead of its predecessor.

Engine/Transmission
Advantage: 2015


The previous-generation Canyon had an interesting all-aluminum engine family, known internally as the Atlas engine and to most consumers as the Vortec 2800 and 2900 in four-cylinder form and the Vortec 3500 and 3700 in five-cylinder form. The engines had relatively competitive power and fuel economy compared with their peers, but were unfortunately saddled to a dated four-speed automatic transmission, which hampered fuel economy and performance slightly. During the last few years of production, the last-generation Canyon was offered with a 5.3-liter Vortec V-8, producing 300 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque, making for a fun ride.

The 2015 model offers more horsepower and more torque, but in different engines. The new 3.6-liter V-6 engine produces an estimated 302 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. Final figures have not yet been released for the 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel I-4, but we're expecting a peak torque output of well over 350 lb-ft. Both engines are mated to a six-speed transmission, both of which promise significantly better fuel economy than the 16/23 performance of the 3.7-liter I-5. The one area where the new truck does not have a major advantage over the outgoing model is curb weight, with the new model being between 300 and 400 pounds heavier, depending on configuration.

Capability
Advantage: 2015


So the new model is a little heavier than the last one, but it's also significantly bigger, more capable, and roomier. Top towing capacity in the outgoing model with the five-cylinder was 5500 pounds. With the optional V-8, it was 6000. The new truck with the V-6 is rated at 6700, and the diesel model may get an even higher rating. Payload is also slightly higher.

The new model dwarfs the last-gen Canyon, being 5.7 inches wider, a whopping 11.1 inches taller, and between 5 and 17 inches longer, with the Crew Cab/6-foot, 2-inch box being a new configuration for 2015. Differences in interior capacity aren't as dramatic as the differences in exterior dimensions, but generally show improvements of a few inches in key measurements.

Interior
Advantage: 2015


There's really no comparison here. The outgoing Canyon's interior was the definition of dull and plasticky, with few creature comforts. The Canyon's new interior shows a lot more attention to detail and design, and the available IntelliLink touchscreen display and interface is something the last Canyon could only dream of.

In terms of NVH, we'll have to take GM's word for it, since we haven't had a chance to drive the new model, but if it's anywhere close to the improvement on the 2014 full-size trucks, it's going to be substantial.

Exterior
Advantage: 2015


The last-gen Canyon had its fans, mostly among the mini-truck crowd, but the styling on the 2015 model is much more mature, distinctive, and recognizable as a GMC. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but we much prefer the styling of the new model, with its mini-Sierra nose with LED accent lights.

One criticism we could level toward the styling of the new model is the beltline being the same as the Colorado’s. The upswept doorline and rear-door glass work well with the Colorado's slightly sleeker lines, but look a little less coherent with the Canyon's chunky, angular styling. But we know how much it would have cost to engineer a separate stamping for the GMC, and it's probably a detail few people other than automotive journalists care about.


GMC Canyon
20122015
Engines2.9L I-4, 185 hp, 190 lb-ft
3.7L I-5, 242 hp, 242 lb-ft
5.3L V-8, 300 hp, 320 lb-ft
2.5L I-4, 193 hp, 184 lb-ft
3.6L V-6, 302 hp, 270 lb-ft
2.8L I-4 turbodiesel, 195 hp, 365 lb-ft (est)
TransmissionsFive-speed manual (I-4 only)
Four-speed automatic
Six-speed manual (I-4, 2WD only)
Six-speed automatic
Wheelbase126 in (extended/crew cab)128.3 (ext cab, crew cab short box)
140.5 (crew cab long box)
Length
x Width
x Height
207.1 x 68.6 x 67.6 in212.4-224.6 x 74.3 x 78.9
Curb Weight3592 (ext. cab I-4 2WD)3944 (ext. cab I-4 2WD)
Towing5500 (3.7 I-5, 2WD automatic)6700 (3.6 V-6, 2WD automatic)
Payload1379 (3.7 I-5, 2WD auto ext cab)1450 (3.6 V-6, 2WD auto ext cab)